Considering Healthcare Construction

By Ryan Klebes
By Ryan Klebes

While certain standards and commonalities exist in the construction industry, anyone in the industry understands that just because a firm can build one kind of building doesn’t mean that firm can build them all.  In fact, many considerations specific to the type of facility being built vary from one construction to another, especially when it comes to healthcare facilities.

In fact, within healthcare a wide range of potential facilities needed exist.  These could include nursing homes, assisted living centers, hospice homes, doctors’ offices, urgent care or other outpatient clinics, or healthcare teaching facilities.  Even the most commonly thought of “healthcare facility” – a hospital – can vary greatly depending on whether it is a rural community hospital, a teaching hospital, or a big-city research facility.

Given the variances in types of healthcare facilities, it is no wonder that the users of these facilities are also diverse.  Patients are typically the top priority – they are depending on the facility as the foundation for their care, regardless of whether they are in the building for a few hours or a few days (or sometimes, both, depending on the course of the care).  But in order to ensure the highest quality of care provided, the employees providing that care also need to be considered.  Nurses, aids, and technicians may work on the same unit for an entire shift, while doctors and other medical professionals come in and out and may visit several care centers in a single day.  With certain healthcare facilities, visitors should also be taken into consideration – instinctive layouts and calming environments to ward off potential unfamiliarity or anxiety can be integral components as well.

Even with the wide range of medical facilities, certain similarities do exist within healthcare construction.  Accessibility is essential given the number of large pieces of movable equipment present.  Electrical requirements, effective lighting, and ease of cleaning are other requirements that must be built into a healthcare construction plan.  Paying attention to the overall environment – keeping it calm and therapeutic – is also important.

In addition to brand-new healthcare building projects, continuing advances in healthcare technology often result in the need for adaptations or adjustments to previously built constructions.  Construction firms that undertake renovations to existing healthcare facilities should stay cognizant of the types of services provided by the facility, and determine how to best commence the renovations without disrupting current operations (if at all possible).  Scheduling plays a big part in minimizing disruptions to patients and healthcare providers.  Depending on the facility, evening and weekend work hours might prove less distracting – for both the facility’s inhabitants and the construction firm’s crew.  Communication is also key – alerting people to expected noise, for example, can help people maintain realistic expectations.  Being aware of the environment – and the individuals’ needs within this environment – is crucial to the success of any construction firm working on a healthcare renovation project.

Partnering with architects, civil engineers, and other companies involved in the project that specialize in healthcare facilities and maintain strong reputations for healthcare construction excellence is a good strategy for construction firms, whether on a renovation or new building.  Doing so can ensure that all aspects of the project will come together seamlessly, and reflect well on the construction firm.

Given the impact of healthcare on everyone’s lives, it is vital that healthcare facilities be built with every need and use considered.

Ryan Klebes is senior project manager at Acella Construction (www.acellaconstruction.com).  He can be reached at rklebes@acellaconstruction.com.

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